Kishore Biyani doesn’t just think it’s stupid to be in the e-commerce space — his Big Bazaar stores are now actively stepping on the toes of e-commerce’s most lucrative offering.
Xiaomi has tied up with Big Bazaar to sell its phones at the supermarket chain. Xiaomi says that its Redmi Note 4 and Redmi 4 phones will be available across 240 Big Bazaar outlets across the country during this festive season. And Kishore Biyani will make sure that customers can have a comparable experience at his stores as they do online — Big Bazaar will offer the phones at special prices, provide no-cost EMI options, and even have offers for ICICI Bank customers. The companies say this is the first time phones are being sold at a nationwide supermarket.
This, of course, is yet another sign that companies are now eyeing the offline world as they aim to grow their once-online offerings. Earlier this month, Amazon had bought a 5% stake in Shoppers Stop and it was speculated that it would use its stores in 38 cities to cross-sell its products; days later, Flipkart had acquired phone repair company F1 Info Solutions, which has stores in 100 cities across the country.
Xiaomi, which at one point exclusively sold its phones online, too has been moving to the offline world as it seeks to grow its India market. The company now has 500 service centers in India, and has also begun setting up plush Mi Home stores where it sells its phones and other products.
All this will be music to the ears of Kishore Biyani, who’s been telling anyone who’d listen that e-commerce by itself wasn’t a viable business model. “It’s stupid to be in the e-commerce space,” he’d once declared, and at another time said that 90% of all startups were “nonsense”. And Biyani will take particular relish from the fact that he’s hitting e-commerce where it hurts — mobile phones make up as much as 60% of all revenue on Indian e-commerce sites, and by driving sales back into his offline stores he’ll be directly hitting their bottom line. Over the last few years, Biyani has watched from the sidelines as e-commerce companies wooed his customers away. Now it seems he’s wooing them right back.